Wednesday 23 November 2011

Westminster fails older people in Northern Ireland

On Tuesday evening our MPs proposed a motion in the House of Commons for the UK government to reverse its decision over cuts to winter fuel payments to older people. Payments will be reduced by £100 to over 80s and £50 to over 60s.

Fuel poverty, where households have to spend over 10% of their income heating their home, is a serious issue here and cutting the payments will lead to unneccessary suffering. Many older people have to choose whether to eat or heat their home in winter.

The facts are stark - in Northern Ireland 44% of older people are suffering from fuel poverty (2009 survey) whereas in England the figure is 15% of older people (2010 survey).

205 MPs voted for the motion, including many of our own Northern Ireland MPs and Labour MPs. Shockingly 280 MPs voted against the motion - it seems older people in Northern Ireland are not a priority for them. Pensions Minister Steve Webb appeared unmoved by the plight suggesting the cuts were "less than a pound a week".

Let us know what you think on this serious issue. Contact your local MLAs, write to Owen Paterson MP, David Cameron PM and Nick Clegg DPM. Making your voice heard will help.

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Monday 21 November 2011

The death penalty debate should be relegated to history

The Green Party notes with grave concern the actions of Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and six DUP colleagues in supporting an early day motion at Westminster in respect of the re-introduction of the death penalty.

The entire direction of international human and civil rights law is towards the abolition of the death penalty. In a time of economic crisis it is astounding that DUP MPs believe the matter is worthy of debate. 

The death penalty is a cruel anachronism which should be relegated to history. There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty acts as deterrent to serious crime, particularly one would assume, for those seeking 'martyrdom' through terrorist acts.

There are many examples of individuals wrongly convicted for serious crimes for which the application of the death penalty would have resulted in terrible mistakes. It is very hard to appeal a conviction from the grave.

Both the UK and Ireland are founder signatories of the Council of Europe. This organisation was set up in the aftermath of World War II to promote co-operation in the field of democracy and human rights.
All Council members are party to the European Convention of Human Rights and the majority of Council members, including the United Kingdom, have ratified a protocol calling for the complete abolition of the death penalty.

It is shameful that a local elected parliamentarian wants to move the UK towards a position closer to that of Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea rather than to be aligned with our European colleagues. I am confident, should a debate take place, that the people and their elected representatives will drop any calls for judicial killing.